Tommy Barker

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Watch: Letting in light at contemporary Ballycotton home

A contemporary home in East Cork offers stunning views and uber-cool touches, says Tommy Barker

Watch: Letting in light at contemporary Ballycotton home

A contemporary home in East Cork offers stunning views and uber-cool touches, says Tommy Barker

The gardens at this two-year old Ballycotton, sea-surveying home, Innisfree, are quite the aged anchor for what is clearly a latter-day arrival, a bang up to date, energy efficient, and architecturally-accomplished one-off home.

And, that’s not surprising, as much of the planting and maturity are down to the older dwelling which once graced this particular half an acre Church Road site.

A bit of site assembly ‘back in the boom’ saw a number of homes along the East Cork harbour village’s Church Road ‘snapped up’ as part of a grand, but ultimately doomed, plan for a housing development to maximise the setting and the way the sloping plot overlooks all of Garryvoe’s long, sandy beaches.

Instead of that vaunting plan for dozens of houses, just a small handful of new-builds crept in after site resales, to replace the handful of older, dated homes. Now, Innisfree, probably the most visually arresting, flat-roofed and highly glazed with two feature roof-flights, and wired to the nth degree, is now for sale, designed and built by a man very much ‘in the know.’

Taken on as a personal vision and project, this high-spec home is down to the skill-set of local Ballycotton/East Cork businessman Michael Tattan, a long time associate of potter and artist Stephen Pearce, and who would have done much of the Pearce ‘empire/emporium’ quirky construction work decades ago.

He also built a coastal East Cork retreat for the likes of Angela Lansbury, built at Ballymaloe and for Rachel and Isaac Allen, and as far back as the late 1980s/early ‘90s did the Paul Street, Cork city centre old 19th century warehouse and loft conversions (originally for Stephen Pearce and Jim Canning’s shop, later the Gingerbread House, now the restaurant Amicus.) That New York-inspired Cork city centre loft apartment was the height of retro-cool — back then.

Fast forward to 2018, and this Ballycotton glass box home is, literally, height of cool of a different century, designed and delivered by Mr Tattan, who started in 2014, and finished it in 2016, with a technical specification sheet longer than most sales brochures.

Selling agent Adrianna Hegarty of Hegarty Properties has the Innisfree sale instruction, and guides at €850,000, having distilled its key selling attributes, and she surmises that it has to be one of the most exciting houses in the Ballycotton and East Cork coastal hinterland. (The ultimate ‘most exciting’ accolade must, surely go to the multi-million euro Kiosk Architects’ designed cliff-set house for returned local Pearse Flynn, precipitously overlooking Ballycotton Island and lighthouse: now, that one is sheer, world-class in its setting and delivery.

Back here on Church Road, the ‘simple’ brief Michael Tattan gave himself was to build a contemporary home, comprising a restrained palette, primarily of glass, steel and concrete, with all the tecchie and energy stuff running away out of sight in the background.

The result is a indeed a modernist, highly efficient home with most of its 2,250 sq ft at ground level and with a stunning master bedroom eyrie up a flight of eye-catching stairs, with walnut treads on a steel skeletal spine, and with the back wall a changing spectrum of LED-washed light.

That upper deck uber-cool bedroom suite is also the house’s very best viewing perch, hence the large window overlooking the beach and lapping ocean along Garryvoe’s length. That same view can be seen from the en suite bathroom and free-standing bath, thanks to a clear glass divide: those of more modest dispositions may choose to curtain, part-screen or sandblast this glazed divide?

Back in the serene sleeping quarters, to resolve any conflict of which way to face the bed — for the views, or for interior calm, or a bit of telly watching? — there’s a bit of a James Bond moment....the bed, in the centre of the room, is motorised, and turns around to any focal point or compass point it’s directed to. It’s a bit of fun, and if any visiting kids find out about it, it will get lots of spinning around and mileage, in what’s otherwise a very grown up space.

That motorised bed is controllable from a remote,an iPhone and/or iPad, and those devices via a Home Automation system can also control lighting (lots of LEDs, colour changes, mood setting, etc) audio and visual, wi-fi, window blinds, CCTV, external lighting, the property’s electric access gates, and the security alarm.

Presumably it can also fire up the external hot-tub/jacuzzi, in a rear garden terrace, set up upon an upper level garden terrace for a sweep of vista-catching, with glass screen balusters and outdoor dining area, with faux grass or Astroturf surface finish.

The hot-tub at Innisfree is seriously oversized: it’s probably big enough to accommodate the entire crew of the local Ballycotton RNLI lifeboat, should they ever need to warm up gently after a rescue mission.

Back now, though, to the glass, ‘bricks and mortar.’

Mr Tattan designed the house to be warm, bright, utterly connected to the setting, views and grounds, and ideal for entertaining, inside and out, with an easy flow from polished concrete interior living spaces, to granite, glass and limestone fringed terraces.

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It’s most effectively one, very large, open living/dining space, with 3-metre high floor to ceiling glazing front and back, set into structural silicone. The flooring is the on-trend, very well-crafted polished concrete, seemingly without expansion joints and the main living space is flooded with light, from front and back, bouncing on the concrete’s slick surface. Then, for even more good measure, there’s an overhead, architecturally designed glazing panel cris-crossed with black steel.

That roof glass is set at a 15 degree pitch, mirroring another in the first floor master bedroom’s ceiling, and each punch through the flat roofs’ Thermoproof insulated panels (manufactured by Thermohouse, a low-energy building system,) with the roofs finished with fibreglass.

Windows and doors are all ‘A’ rated, by Reynaers Aluminium, and comprise a mix of triple glazing and structural silicone joints, sourced from 20/20 Windows and Glazing. The entire 2016-completed build has got a A3 BER rating, with cavity wall and steel construction, where the cavity has 100mm fill of insulation, the interior has 62.5mm insulated slab, and the exterior block has 100mm insulation, with a permanent render colour finish.

Heating most visibly is from a wide, 8kw Stovax solid fuel stove in an external gable wall with external air intake, but most practically heat is delivered via an air to water 8 kw, low-temperature heat pump. It’s supplied by underfloor heating under a 2.5mm insulated slab throughout the downstairs, and in the upstairs bathrooms, while the first floor bedroom has a wall-mounted 2 kw fan convector heater.

Keeping it all ticking over nicely is a Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system, which has a boost function in the bathrooms, and in keeping with the quite ‘commercial building’ spec are suspended ceilings, to allow for wiring and ducting, filled with spray foam, keeping the whole house toasty, like a well wrapped comfort blanket.

Of course, for many (and, quite rightly so) all this is detail is just background stuff, what’s really important is the efficiency, the functionality and easy functioning, the fun and the feel.

Internally, it’s the calmest of spaces, with two ground floor bedrooms, one front, one back, mid-section, and then off to the right is the spacious living quarters, a mix of lounging and dining, and relazing, with cooking away in the rear-set kitchen, with galley-style kitchen done by the House of Coolmore, and slick black gloss, handless units, and windows on two sides, droping from celing height to the white quartz worktops, overlooking the rear garden and terrace.

Set slickly and flush to the units are three ovens, coffee maker, and there’s a dishwasher, wine fridge, induction hob, retractable downdraft extractor, pop-up countertop sockets, and angular steep tap behind an underset sink. Adjustable LED lighting runs underfoot, by the cabinet kickboards.

Auctioneer Adrianna Hegarty says Innisfree’s filled with natural light, and is “ideal for entertaining with the floor plan flowing effortlessly throughout.” Those entertaining attractions span inside and outside, with privacy on the site as well as views.

There’s farmland behind, mature borders and grounds thanks to the planting done by previous owners of the since-removed ‘70s house on this plot, and many, many viewing and vantage points to boot.

“All in all, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a truly unique home within walking distance of the famous fishing village of Ballycotton,” she extols, expecting inquires from design aficionados and Ballycotton fans, from far and wide.

VERDICT: calm, contemporary design meets building quality in this coastal retreat. “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, Ballycotton-style.”

Ballycotton, East Cork

€850,000

Size: (2,250 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3

BER: A3

Pictures: Rory O’Toole

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